Glorantha cultures: cross-pollination and changes over time

As I continue to do research and background work on the Gods of Glorantha, from time to time I’ll post notes that I think might be interesting to at least some of you. One of things I try to keep in mind as I write about Glorantha is that cultures cross-pollinate and change over time. This even has an impact of Gloranthan cults – the cults of Yelm and Orlanth have changed over Time.

Cultures don’t exist in isolation. Many Gloranthan cultures have centuries of communication and cross-pollination. In Peloria, the Orlanthi tribes have looked to Dara Happa for the trappings of status and authority since the days of the Bright Empire. By the mid-Second Age, the material culture (clothing, weapons, architecture, visual art) of the rulers of Talastar, Sylila, and Terarir was more similar to that of Dara Happa than to Dragon Pass; however, those areas continued to worship Orlanth and speak Theyalan language. A traditionalist Orlanthi chieftain of Talastar might well wear a long robe that extends to his feet and curl his beard like a Dara Happan nobleman. This is true even if he despises Dara Happa and the Lunar Emperor – since that is what a ruler should look like.

In the Third Age, this extended to all of South Peloria after the Dragonkill. Jannisor was perfectly acceptable to the Dara Happan nobility as a warlord against the Red Emperor – despite being a hill tribesman who worshiped the Rebel Gods. Ingakotum, the Lord of the River and most powerful of Sylilan chiefs, wore clothes and carried weapons that were indistinguishable from that of a Dara Happan aristocrat – indeed they might have been made there! The Pelorian Orlanthi have adopted the prefixes and suffixes of Dara Happa (marking gender and status), and the written prefixes for gods and heroes was incorporated into Theyalan script in the First Age.

In the Holy Country and Maniria, there was no direct Dara Happan influence for several centuries. Instead, those lands look to Esrolia for the trappings of status and authority. Wrap-around skirts which are above the knee for men, pleated or fluted skirts which are down to the ankles for women, exposed breasts, makeup, nudity, and bright colors are all signs of status and wealth.  Based on clothing, appearance, and material culture, it is difficult to tell the difference between an Esrolian and a Hendriking (I’ve heard you really have to look carefully at the tattoos). The cults of Ernalda, Lhankor Mhy, Issaries, and Chalana Arroy all look to Esrolia as the home of their gods (or at least the place of their greatest temples). Those Hendrikings who settled Dragon Pass (and later became Sartarites) brought that culture with them – and continued to look to the Holy Country for the trappings of status and authority.

With the Lunar Conquest of Sartar, many Sartarite rulers have adopted the material culture of the Lunar Empire (while rejecting its Red Goddess). A traditionalist Colymar chieftain might dress the same as a Tarshite noble, while rebelling against the Lunar Empire at the same time!

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